Scotsman Chris Hoy is the face and leading light of Great Britain’s increasingly dominant track cycling team. The likes of Chris Boardman, Jason Queally, and Bradley Wiggins had won gold for Britain in recent Olympic Games, but not even the biggest optimist could have foreseen the deluge of gold the team would strike in Beijing in 2008.
The Laoshan Velodrome on the outskirts of the Chinese capital looked like a home from for many of the British cyclists with Union Jack flags draped from every vantage point and the riders did not disappoint. Seven out of the 10 golds contested were won by Britain, three of them by the so-called “Flying Scotsman”. Hoy had long been a brutally strong rider, winning the first Olympic gold of his career in Athens in the now defunct 1km time-trial.
Four years later and with a string of world titles under his belt, Hoy was fighting for gold on three fronts at the Olympic Games in Beijing; the team sprint, the keirin and the individual sprint.
In the team sprint, Hoy and his team mates Jason Kenny and Jamie Staff looked unbeatable and so it proved, in the final they broke the world record beating the French trio by over six tenths of a second.
Next up was the keirin when the six-strong pack cycles behind a motorised bike before their pacesetter pulls off the track for 2.5 explosive laps to the finish. In the final, Hoy took the brave tactical step of going for home over a lap from home. But his lung-bursting surge paid dividends as he destroyed the field with team mate Ross Edgar scraping home for silver.
The win made Hoy Scotland’s most successful Olympian of all time, but he wasn’t stopping there.
The last gold in his sights, and tactically the most difficult, was the individual sprint; the classic game of cat and mouse pitting two cyclists head-to-head with a final one-lap dash to the line.
He was up against another team-mate Kenny in the final and the opening race in the best of three proved decisive. He just edged out Kenny and it was clear that his fellow Briton would not have enough left in the tank to produce a recovery.
At 32, Hoy was 12 years Kenny’s senior and yet he cruised to victory in the second race of the final to become the first Briton for over 100 years to win three golds in the same Olympics.
Hoy was knighted in January 2009, and will be aiming for more gold medals at his home Olympics at London 2012.